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University of Maryland, Underwriters Laboratories and the International Fire Safety Consortium Collaborate to Advance Global Fire Safety

October 13, 2020

Ted Knight

Lee Tune 301-405-4679 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland (UMD) in partnership with the International Fire Safety Consortium (IFSC) and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) are working to address fire safety problems worldwide by advancing fire safety engineering and scientific research, while facilitating knowledge exchange and global collaboration.

Fires result in hundreds of thousands of deaths each year with financial losses estimated between 1-2% of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a total of approximately $76 billion USD worldwide. Due to pivotal trends in global urbanization, social inequality, climate change, and human migration, the need to address fire safety as a humanitarian issue has grown increasingly urgent. As a result of these trends, combined with substantial worldwide growth of wildland-urban interface (WUI), fire-related damage to structures and other economic losses are worsening and predicted to increase, as they have recently in the Western U.S.

The large scale of these problems and the increasing societal costs require greater coordinated expertise, public-partnerships, and concerted multidisciplinary research worldwide. The International Fire Safety Consortium (IFSC) global initiative aims to fill this need by bringing together research expertise from across the globe to take on these urgent fire safety challenges.

“We are thrilled to establish this partnership with UL and our International Fire Safety Consortium, which aligns with our research mission to achieve broad societal impact through global collaborations that focus on critical challenges,” said University of Maryland Vice President for Research Laurie Locascio.

“This partnership is a key step in advancing our purpose to address the world’s unresolved fire safety risks and emerging dangers to reduce death, injury and loss from fire,” said Underwriters Laboratories Vice President of Research and UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute Director Steve Kerber. Underwriters Laboratories (UL), is the nonprofit parent organization of UL Inc.

The IFSC engages in research, education, training, and collaboration with industry, non-profit organizations, and governments worldwide to tackle the most urgent and emerging fire safety issues and help save lives. The IFSC was launched by five leading academic institutions in fire safety research and education: University of Maryland, University of Edinburgh, University of Melbourne, Lund University, and University of Queensland. All five of the founding partner universities are members of the Universitas 21 Global Network, a worldwide network of research-intensive universities that empowers its members to share excellence, collaborate across borders, and nurture global knowledge exchange. The IFSC has brought aboard additional academic research partners, including Ghent University. The Consortium is building an expansive network of partnerships comprised of industry, non-profit organizations, and academic research institutions.

"The basic motivation for the IFSC is the realization that fire problems are becoming more challenging and evolving even faster than the pace at which we are producing new knowledge and new technical expertise,” said University of Maryland Professor Arnaud Trouvé in the UMD Department of Fire Protection Engineering. “The IFSC is an attempt to coordinate efforts between leading institutions in fire safety education and research in order to respond to that challenge. Our goal is to increase the number of IFSC members in order to reach a critical mass for impact at the global scale. We welcome UL with its long and impressive record in fire research as a new member of the IFSC network."

This latest partnership will establish UL as a Non-Profit Partner of the IFSC.  UL will collaborate with IFSC members on fire safety education, research, and knowledge exchange.  The partnership will be coordinated through the University of Maryland, a founding member of the IFSC, with researchers from the Department of Fire Protection Engineering actively participating in Consortium activities. The IFSC was originally inspired by and facilitated through UMD’s Borderless Research Administration Knowledge Exchange (BRAKE) program.

The IFSC brings expertise on a wide range of fire safety topics, including:             

  • Fire Hazards (Wildland Fires, Wildland Urban Interface, Urban Fire RisksFire Dynamics (Combustion and Flame Spread, Pyrolysis, Compartment Fire Dynamics / CFD, Material Performance)
  • Risk Assessment (Capability Assessment, Scenario Development, e.g. 
  • Cascading and Crowding, Fire Statistics, Vulnerability, Reliability)
  • Resilience and Sustainability (Environmental Impact of Fire, Affordable and Fire Safe Housing, Fire Safety in At-Risk Communities, e.g. Informal Settlements, Critical Infrastructure Assessment)
  • Fire Safety Engineering (Performance Based Design, Structural Fire Engineering, Building Systems, Suppression)
  • Human Behavior (Intelligent Egress, Arson)
  • Fire Fighting Activities (First Responders, Detection and Response, Suppression)
  • Social Aspects (Compliance, Regulations, Safety Inequality, Professionalism and Competency)

The UL-IFSC-UMD partnership seeks worldwide impact through basic and applied research addressing fundamental challenges related to fire science and fire protection engineering to help make communities safer. The partnership also seeks to help advance the fire safety profession through education and training to address critical societal problems.

For more information about the International Fire Safety Consortium, and to learn more about partnership opportunities and how to support the IFSC, visit the IFSC website or contact Ted Knight at

About Underwriters Laboratories

Underwriters Laboratories is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the UL public safety mission through the discovery and application of scientific knowledge. We conduct rigorous independent research and analyze safety data, convene experts worldwide to address risks, share knowledge through safety education and public outreach initiatives, and develop standards to guide safe commercialization of evolving technologies. We foster communities of safety, from grassroots initiatives for neighborhoods to summits of world leaders. Our organization employs collaborative and scientific approaches with partners and stakeholders to drive innovation and progress toward improving safety, security, and sustainability, ultimately enhancing societal well-being. To learn more, visit

About the International Fire Safety Consortium

The International Fire Safety Consortium brings together worldwide knowledge and expertise to tackle the most critical and emerging fire safety challenges of our time. As the impact of urbanization, social inequality, climate change, and human migration continues to grow, greater worldwide coordination and action addressing fire safety is urgently needed. The Consortium engages in research, education, and collaboration with industry, government, and non-governmental organizations to help inform policy and practice, protect property, and save lives. The IFSC was launched by five leading academic institutions in fire safety research and education: University of Maryland, University of Edinburgh, University of Melbourne, Lund University, and University of Queensland. All five of the founding partner universities are members of the Universitas 21 Global Network, a worldwide network of research-intensive universities that empowers its members to share excellence, collaborate across borders, and nurture global knowledge exchange. The IFSC has brought aboard additional academic research partners to join the network, including Ghent University, and is building a broader network of additional industry and non-profit partners. For more information, visit the IFSC website.

About the University of Maryland

The University of Maryland, College Park is the state's flagship university and one of the nation's preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship and innovation, the university is home to more than 40,000 students,10,000 faculty and staff, and 297 academic programs. As one of the nation’s top producers of Fulbright scholars, its faculty includes two Nobel laureates, three Pulitzer Prize winners and 58 members of the national academies. The institution has a $2.1 billion operating budget and secures more than $1 billion annually in research funding together with the University of Maryland, Baltimore. For more information about the University of Maryland, College Park, visit


UMD Biologist Gets $ 1.5 Million NIH Award to Develop Brain Mapping Techniques

October 7, 2020

Kimbra Cutlip 301-405-9463 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – University of Maryland Biology Assistant Professor Colenso Speer, has been awarded the National Institutes of Health (NIH) “Director’s New Innovator Award”. The award, which is one of the organization’s most competitive grants, is part of NIH’s High-Risk, High-Reward Research Program. It is designed to support “exceptionally creative early career investigators who propose innovative, high-impact projects in the biomedical, behavioral or social sciences.”

Speer will receive $1.5 million for a five-year investigation into the development and plasticity of neural circuitry in the brain. He plans to create tools and methods for studying how neural circuits form and how connections between neurons change at the molecular level in response to sensory experiences.

Speer’s research could lead to a major step forward in mapping the physical layout of the circuits in the brain and understanding the complex chemical signals that pass between neurons.

“I was very pleased to receive this award and to know that our ideas are being welcomed and thought of as innovative,” Speer said. “This award acknowledges that success is not guaranteed, but that potential for a successful outcome is very high and that it would be transformative for the field.”

A key focus of Speer’s research is the molecular activity within synapses, the physical connections between neurons in the brain. Each of the roughly one hundred trillion synapses in the human brain is an extremely intricate and complex environment where multiple molecules process and convey signals across the connection. Those connections change over time, growing stronger or weaker through experience, a process that contributes to learning and memory. So far, scientists have not had the tools to investigate exactly how synapses function at the molecular level.

“We're sort of going down the rabbit hole in our research to try to understand how synapses are wiring up and properly connecting together as they’re being formed,” Speer said. “We’re asking, ‘What are the molecular mechanisms that regulate synapse formation and organization?’”

To conduct this research, Speer and his team will study how specific neurons and synapses develop to connect the eyes to the brain and enable visual perception in mice. Working with collaborators from UMD’s Department of Biology, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics, Speer will develop and apply a series of new technologies from three broad areas of research: transcriptomics, proteomics and super-resolution fluorescence microscopy. Transcriptomics, which analyzes RNA, will be used to determine how DNA in cells of the neuronal circuitry is transcribed to produce new proteins that perform the cells’ biological functions. Proteomics will be used to identify changes in the types and amounts of proteins at work in synapses during different stages of development and in response to different stimuli. Super-resolution fluorescence microscopy will enable researchers in Speer’s lab to image the physical arrangement of molecules within brain tissue and map the spatial organization of RNA and proteins contributing to the development of synaptic connections.

“The techniques that we plan to apply here are extremely sophisticated,” Speer explained. “We’re working with very small and delicate samples of RNA and protein that are either unstable, easily degraded or lost during the process, so each step is very technically challenging.”

In addition, the team will apply these methods to very tiny targets—single synapses from specific, individual neurons. With such a high level of difficulty, a lot of things could go wrong during sampling or analysis. But, if successful, Speer’s research could result in the first complete list of ingredients—at the level of RNA and protein—in a developing synapse. It could also provide the tools to create a full understanding of the spatial organization of the molecules that underly synapse function and the organization of circuits. This work would allow for a detailed molecular picture of how the brain is wired and how it changes in response to different sensory inputs.

“The reward is that we could have a comprehensive molecular map of synapses during development, aging and disease,” Speer said. “If we had that information, this would help us identify genetic candidates for potential treatments for neuropsychiatric disorders, neurodevelopmental disorders, aging and memory disorders, and many other cognitive functions that are directly impacted by changes in synapses.”

Speer came to the University of Maryland in 2017, after completing a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard. He earned a Ph.D. in Neuroscience at UC Davis in 2010 and a B.S. in Molecular Biosciences/Biotechnology at Arizona State University in 2004.

Collaborators from the University of Maryland include Joshua Singer, a professor and chair of the Department of Biology, Peter Nemes, an associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry and Najib El-Sayed a professor of cell biology and molecular genetics who also holds a joint appointment in the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies.

Initial collaboration between Speer, Nemes and El-Sayed was supported by a 2019 UMD Brain and Behavior Initiative (BBI) Seed Grant.

Speer’s NIH New Innovator Award has been granted under the award number DP2MH125812.

UMD, BSU to Announce Social Justice Alliance in the name of 1st Lt. Richard Collins III

September 30, 2020

BOWIE, Md., & COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Bowie State University (BSU), in collaboration with the University of Maryland (UMD), will announce a Social Justice Alliance on Thursday, October 1. The Alliance is created to honor the legacy of BSU alumnus 1st Lt. Richard Collins III and promote social justice on their respective campuses.

The two universities and the Collins family will be joined by Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy to commemorate the launch of the Alliance, and mark the significance of the day as the 2nd Lt. Richard Collins III law goes into effect in the state of Maryland. Richard Collins III was posthumously promoted to first lieutenant by the Secretary of the Army earlier this month.


  • Aminta H. Breaux, President, Bowie State University
  • Darryll J. Pines, President, University of Maryland
  • Richard and Dawn Collins, Parents of 1st Lt.  Richard Collins III
  • Aisha N. Braveboy, State's Attorney, Prince George's County, Maryland
  • Alliance coordinators, students and faculty 


Thursday, October 1, 2020

  • 12:30 p.m. – virtual launch event 
    • Hear from BSU and UMD presidents, faculty and students about the BSU-UMD Social Justice Alliance. Remarks will be made by BSU President Breaux; UMD President Pines; Charles Adams, associate professor, Bowie State University; Zita Nunes, associate professor, University of Maryland; Kimetta Hairston, associate professor, Bowie State University; Georgina Dodge, vice president for Diversity and Inclusion, University of Maryland; Rashawn Ray, associate professor, University of Maryland and board member, 2nd Lt. Richard Collins III Foundation; Derrick Hinton, Bowie State University student; and Zahrah Siddiqi, University of Maryland student, and State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy.
  • 1:30 p.m. – virtual press conference with media Q&A
    • Join Presidents Breaux and Pines, Mr. and Mrs. Collins, and State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy for remarks and a question and answer session on the BSU-UMD Social Justice Alliance and the 2nd Lt. Richard Collins III law.


Media should reach out to with any questions about the virtual event and/or press conference. 


About Bowie State University
Bowie State University (BSU) is an important higher education access portal for qualified persons from diverse academic and socioeconomic backgrounds, seeking a high-quality and affordable public comprehensive university. The university places special emphasis on the science, technology, cybersecurity, teacher education, business, and nursing disciplines within the context of a liberal arts education. For more information about BSU, visit

About the University of Maryland
The University of Maryland, College Park is the state's flagship university and one of the nation's preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship and innovation, the university is home to more than 40,000 students,10,000 faculty and staff, and 297 academic programs. As one of the nation’s top producers of Fulbright scholars, its faculty includes two Nobel laureates, three Pulitzer Prize winners and 58 members of the national academies. The institution has a $2.1 billion operating budget and secures more than $1 billion annually in research funding together with the University of Maryland, Baltimore. For more information about the University of Maryland, College Park, visit

About the 2nd Lt. Richard Collins III Foundation
In the early hours of May 20, 2017, two days after his commissioning as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army and just before his long-anticipated graduation from Bowie State University, Richard W. Collins III was murdered by a follower of the Alt Reich Nation white supremacist group. His parents established the foundation that bears his name to advocate for social and civic justice for all people.  Through scholarship and education, the 2nd Lt. Richard W. Collins, III Foundation works to build young leaders thru education and civic engagement that embodies Richard’s character seeking to build a better informed and more tolerant America.  Visit

UMD Names Prabhudev Konana Dean of Robert H. Smith School of Business

September 28, 2020

Katie Lawson 301-405-4622

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland has named Prabhudev Konana, Ph.D., Dean of the Robert H. Smith School of Business, effective January 2, 2021. In this role, he will lead Smith in its mission to create knowledge, promote an inclusive learning environment that fosters intellectual discovery, and equip current and future leaders to assess complex problems and deliver innovative solutions.

“I am thrilled to accept the role as Dean of the Robert H. Smith School of Business,” said Konana. “As business education is rapidly changing in the current social, political, technological, and market trends, I look forward to all that can be accomplished with the students, faculty and staff at the University of Maryland.” 

Konana currently serves as the Associate Dean of Instructional Innovation, William H. Seay Centennial Professor of Information Management and Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business. As associate dean, he helped develop the focus and identity of the McCombs School of Business, emphasizing entrepreneurship and innovation, and successfully led the transition of the entire business school faculty to online synchronous teaching, among other notable accomplishments in teaching and research. 

“Prabhudev Konana is perfectly positioned to assume this role in the highly competitive landscape of business education,” said Senior Vice President and Provost Mary Ann Rankin. “I have no doubt that he will swiftly implement big ideas while strengthening academic connections throughout Smith and across campus. Dr. Konana’s contributions will positively impact the Smith School’s fearless and innovative academic reputation.”

Prior to his current role, Konana previously served as Chair of the Department of Information, Risks, and Operations Management at the Texas McCombs School of Business. As Chair, he founded highly ranked MS in Business Analytics in partnership with businesses, revamped advisory council, raised funds from business partners, funded several research workshops and symposia; supported visiting faculty for research collaboration, improved teaching standards in various programs, incentivized faculty to offer specialized electives and focused on recruiting high-energy and passionate staff. 

Konana holds a Bachelor of Technology degree from the University of Mysore in India, a Master of Business Administration degree, and Ph.D. from the University of Arizona, Tucson. 


About the University of Maryland
The University of Maryland, College Park is the state's flagship university and one of the nation's preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship and innovation, the university is home to more than 40,000 students,10,000 faculty and staff, and 280 academic programs. As one of the nation’s top producers of Fulbright scholars, its faculty includes two Nobel laureates, three Pulitzer Prize winners and 58 members of the national academies. The institution has a $1.9 billion operating budget and secures $514 million annually in external research funding. For more information about the University of Maryland, College Park, visit

University of Maryland, Baltimore and University of Maryland, College Park Researchers Collaborate to Address COVID-19

September 25, 2020

Lee Tune 301405-4679  Mary Therese Phelan 443-615-5810

COLLEGE PARK, Md.. & BALTIMORE, Md.  The Joint Steering Council of the University of Maryland Strategic Partnership: MPowering the State (MPower), a formal collaboration of the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) and the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP), has awarded funding to five multidisciplinary research teams to respond to the impact of COVID-19 in Maryland and beyond.

After a review and ranking of 50 submissions by faculty peer representatives from both UMB and UMCP, the Steering Council awarded $500,000 in funding to five teams: two to support vaccine development; one to develop a rapid testing method; one to study psychological factors of vaccine acceptance among African Americans; and one to explore the use of an artificial intelligence tool for delivery of child behavioral health services via telemedicine in rural communities.

The Joint Steering Council issued the call for proposals to mobilize researchers at both institutions to bring solutions that would offer immediate action to address the COVID-19 pandemic and to prepare for future pandemics.

The request for proposals sought timely, impactful projects that would improve the health of Maryland residents by reducing the impact of COVID-19 through scientific, medical, public health, social, behavioral, or policy/legal approaches, or by supporting those most at risk or experiencing the greatest disparities in care.

UMB Interim Provost, Executive Vice President and Dean of the Graduate School Roger J. Ward, EdD, JD, MSL, MPA, is a member of the Joint Steering Council. “This pandemic is not just a medical crisis; it’s a complex human crisis, which requires a multidisciplinary response,” Ward said. “We knew that tapping the power of the strategic partnership would bring together top thinkers from all of the areas of our expertise in medicine and public health, as well as in the social and behavioral sciences, policy, and law.”

Funding was offered from $25,000 to $100,000 per award, for a duration no longer than 12 months.

“Through MPower, we can bring together our significant and complementary research strengths to respond to this public health crisis,” said UMCP Provost and Senior Vice President Mary Ann Rankin, PhD, who also serves on the Joint Steering Council.  “Our goal is to harness our collective faculty expertise to accelerate critical research that will reduce the impact of COVID-19.”

The winning teams capitalize on the research expertise of UMB and UMCP, and showcase collaboration across multiple colleges and schools. The selected teams consist of faculty from UMCP’s College of Arts and Humanities, School of Public Health, and College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences, partnering with researchers from UMB’s schools of medicine, pharmacy, and nursing.

“We knew we would get interest when we asked faculty to collaborate and bring multidisciplinary expertise to respond to this urgent health crisis, Ward said.  “But I was very pleased with the large response and the real potential for impact. I‘m looking forward to their progress.”

A look at the winning projects:


Predicting and improving COVID-19 vaccine acceptance among African Americans during the Coronavirus pandemic.

As the world anxiously awaits a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine, there is growing concern about vaccine hesitancy fueled in part by misinformation. The proposed research seeks to understand why African Americans, who suffer disproportionately from the adverse health and economic impact of the pandemic, might accept or reject the anticipated COVID-19 vaccine. The goal of this project is to develop and evaluate communication messages that could be used in a broader health promotion effort to improve COVID-19 vaccine acceptance among African Americans. Findings of this research will help address COVID-19 health disparities and inform pandemic vaccine communication across ethnic/racial groups.

FUNDING: $98,432


  • Xiaoli Nan, PhD, UMCP, College of Arts and Humanities (ARHU), professor of communication, and director, Center for Health and Risk Communication
  • Sandra Quinn, PhD,  UMCP, School of Public Health, professor and chair, Department of Family Science, and Senior Associate Director, Maryland Center for Health Equity
  • Clement Adebamowo, MD, University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM), professor, Epidemiology & Public Health, Institute of Human Virology / associate director of the Population Science Program, Marlene & Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Shana Ntiri, MD, UMSOM, assistant professor, Family and Community Medicine and medical director of the Baltimore City Cancer Program, Marlene & Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center


Development of a COVID-19 vaccine based on the supramolecular assembly of SARS-CoV-2 structural proteins using a novel immunoadjuvant delivery system


This project will generate novel vaccine candidates for SARS-CoV-2 which are urgently needed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The team will utilize an interdisciplinary approach with advanced computational design tools and high resolution structural characterization to produce and optimize vaccine candidates based on the Spike glycoprotein, which is a critical target of the antibody response to SARS-CoV-2.

FUNDING: $100,000.


  • Tom Fuerst, PhD, UMCP College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences, Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research (IBBR), Cell Biology & Molecular Genetics
  • Matthew Frieman, PhD, UMSOM, associate professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology
  • Gilad Ofek, PhD, UMCP College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences, assistant professor, Cell Biology & Molecular Genetics, IBBR
  • Brian Pierce, PhD, UMCP College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences, assistant professor, Cell Biology & Molecular Genetics, IBBR
  • Alexander Andrianov, PhD, research professor, UMCP College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences, IBBR


A rapid point-of-care testing for SARS-CoV-2


This innovative project aims to develop a point-of-care test that can rapidly and effectively detect infections of SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19. One of the challenges in preventing onward transmission of the virus is the lack of a simple, rapid, and affordable test. Without a rapid test, it is almost impossible to early identify infected cases and isolate them from the community. This study meets this urgent need in this public health crisis.

FUNDING: $100,000.


  • Feng Jiang, MD, PhD, UMSOM, professor, Department of Pathology
  • Hongjie Liu, PhD, UMCP School of Public Health, professor and chair, Epidemiology and Biostatistics
  • Sanford Stass, MD, UMSOM, professor and chair, Department of Pathology – co-lead of COVID-19 testing initiative of Maryland
  • Nevins Todd, MD, UMSOM, clinical associate professor, Pulmonary Medicine


Molecular investigations of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein


In infected cells, coronaviruses use host fat molecules to transport spike protein to the correct cellular compartment for progeny assembly. Researchers will use high-resolution imaging to discern atomic-level details of how host fat molecules modify the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein for transport. These architectural details will open avenues for computational screening of small molecules for inhibition of spike-fat interactions. This approach offers a potential means of therapeutic intervention in COVID-19 by inhibiting assembly and propagation of SARS-CoV-2 progeny.

FUNDING: $100,000.


  • Syed Saif Hasan, PhD, UMSOM, assistant professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • John Orban, PhD, UMCP College of Computer, Mathematics and Natural Sciences, professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry, NMR Spectroscopy, IBBR
  • Alexander MacKerell, PhD, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy (UMSOP), Grollman-Glick Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, and director, Computer- Aided Drug Design Center


Developing an artificial intelligence tool to improve caregiver engagement for rural child behavioral health services


The overall goal of this project is to study artificial intelligence based-technology strategies to help child behavioral health providers improve caregiver engagement in rural Maryland communities. With the recent pandemic, most of these services are provided “virtually” through videoconferencing platforms. The project will collect and analyze information from videotaped sessions (e.g. speech patterns, facial expressions) and assess the relationship between artificial intelligence measured engagement with provider and caregiver-reported engagement in care. The project will also investigate the association of social isolation with perceived caregiver engagement. This data could potentially be used to improve provider training and develop a tool that provides “real-time” feedback to providers on caregiver engagement.   

FUNDING: $90,522.


  • Gloria Reeves, MD, UMSOM, associate professor, Psychiatry, Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Vice Chair of Research Services
  • Aniket Bera, PhD, UMCP College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences, University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS), assistant professor, Department of Computer Science, Maryland Robotics Center
  • Susan dosReis, PhD, UMSOP, Pharmaceutical Health Services, Research Vice Chair for Research, Pharmaceutical Health Services Research
  • Dinesh Manocha, PhD, UMCP College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences, University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS), professor, Paul Chrisman Iribe Professor of Computer Science, and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Distinguished University Professor
  • Mathangi Gopalakrishnan, PhD, MS, UMSOP, research assistant professor, Pharmaceutical Health Services Research
  • Kay Connors, MSW, LCSW-C, UMSOM, instructor, Psychiatry
  • Kristin Bussell, PhD, CRNP-PMH, University of Maryland School of Nursing, assistant professor, Family and Community Health
  • Katrina Escuro, MD, UMSOM, assistant professor, Psychiatry



UMD's Scripps Howard Foundation Establishes Roy W. Howard Fellowship

September 21, 2020

Josh Land

COLLEGE PARK, Md - Furthering its investment in aspiring investigative journalists, the Scripps Howard Foundation has pledged up to $1.5 million to establish a fellowship program in honor of legendary journalist and news executive Roy W. Howard.

The Roy W. Howard Fellowship program will be open exclusively to journalists who have completed studies at the Howard Centers for Investigative Journalism at the University of Maryland and Arizona State University.

The Howard Centers, established in 2018 with a $6 million commitment from the Scripps Howard Foundation, are graduate programs administered by the Phillip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

The Roy W. Howard Fellowships are an extension of the Foundation’s commitment to the success of the Howard Centers and the education and professional development of emerging investigative journalists.

“Roy W. Howard was an extraordinary journalist and news executive of The E.W. Scripps Company who made an indelible mark, not just on the profession he influenced, but on the course of world affairs,” said Liz Carter, chief executive officer and president of the Scripps Howard Foundation. “He believed passionately in the important role journalists fulfill in a free society, so it’s fitting that the Howard Centers, and now the Roy Howard Fellowships, bear his name and further the cause to which he dedicated a lifetime.” 

The fellowships will be made available to up to 30 journalists during a three-year period beginning January 2021. The program will support a maximum of 10 fellows a year, and each will be assigned to work for 12 months at a nonprofit news organization selected by the Howard Centers. 

“This program is designed to offer fellowship opportunities for select graduates from the Howard Centers to further enhance their skills as investigative journalists working for professional news organizations,” Carter said. “The objective is to provide post-graduate journalists with a hands-on, real-world environment to develop their communication, collaboration, networking and leadership skills.”

The fellowships will provide a portion of each fellow’s salary, with the remainder paid by the nonprofit news organization hosting the fellow, a relocation stipend and funding for training. Fellowships will be awarded and administered in two annual cycles – January through December and June through May. 

“The Roy Howard Fellowships will not only provide a unique opportunity for a new generation of investigative journalists by placing them inside outstanding professional newsrooms, it will boost the ability of nonprofit newsrooms of all types to dig into stories that matter to America’s communities,” said Lucy Dalglish, dean of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism. 

The first class of fellows will be chosen in November and placed with participating news organizations such as InsideClimate News, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, NPR and PBS NewsHour in January 2021. 

As the philanthropic organization of The E.W. Scripps Company, the Foundation partners with the company and the Scripps and Howard families to create a better-informed world by advancing journalism and journalism education. The creation of the Roy W. Howard Fellowships is the latest addition to these ongoing journalism development initiatives, which includes the recently announced award of $600,000 toward a program to advance diversity in journalism, the Scripps Howard Fellowship program and the establishment of the Howard Centers for Investigative Journalism. 


University of Maryland Names Dr. Spyridon Marinopoulos Director of University Health Center

September 18, 2020

Katie Lawson

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland has named Spyridon (Spiro) Marinopoulos, M.D., M.B.A., F.A.C.P., Director of the University Health Center. As director, Dr. Marinopoulos will be responsible for overall strategic leadership of the Center, which provides health care services for students, faculty, staff, and visitors, as well as oversight of the Maryland Athletics medical staff. Also serving as the University’s Chief Medical Officer, he will lead and consult on all campus health and safety decisions related to COVID-19. 

Dr. Marinopoulos currently serves as the Director of University Health Services at Johns Hopkins University, where he is responsible for the healthcare and wellness offerings for students and trainees at the Johns Hopkins East Baltimore campus. In this role, he oversees the campus clinical services, including primary care and mental health, benefits and billing, and the Office of Wellness and Health Promotion. With an emphasis on student well-being, he has provided improved access to student services by increasing the availability of health care providers, achieved a decrease in the cost of student health insurance by creating a new funding mechanism for patient visits, and oversaw the relocation of the health center to help facilitate high-quality care. 

Dr. Marinopoulos takes over in January 2021, as Dr. Sacared Bodison concludes her term as interim director. Dr. Bodison will continue at the university in an advisory role to ensure a smooth transition of leadership at this critical time. 

“With health and safety as a top university priority, our campus is incredibly grateful for the strength of the University Health Center under Dr. Sacared Bodison, whose service to the University of Maryland spans nearly 35 years. While we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, I am encouraged that there will be no lapse in fearless leadership as we welcome Dr. Spiro Marinopoulos to this important role,” said University of Maryland President Darryll J. Pines. 

“I am proud to accept this leadership role at the University of Maryland at such a crucial time for health and wellness in academia - and the world,” said Dr. Marinopoulos. “I look forward to contributing to the robust service offerings and student-focused approach to university health, and stand eager to address the many challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Concurrently, Dr. Marinopoulos is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine with an extensive teaching and research background, having authored more than 30 peer-reviewed publications, including in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine. Prior to joining Johns Hopkins, he completed his internal medicine training at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Cornell Medical Center.

“Dr. Marinopoulos’ proven leadership at Johns Hopkins, in addition to his emphasis on student wellness and care for staff, makes me confident that he will immediately make an impact here at Maryland,” says Patty Perillo, Vice President for Student Affairs. “The exceptional University Health Center staff will continue to lead the way as we partner with state and county health officials, on behalf of the entire campus community. We are excited to have Dr. Marinopoulos at the helm.”

Dr. Marinopoulos is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and a member of the Society of General Internal Medicine and the American College Health Association. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Chicago, a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and a Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. 


About the University of Maryland
The University of Maryland, College Park is the state's flagship university and one of the nation's preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship and innovation, the university is home to more than 40,000 students,10,000 faculty and staff, and 297 academic programs. As one of the nation’s top producers of Fulbright scholars, its faculty includes two Nobel laureates, three Pulitzer Prize winners and 58 members of the national academies. The institution has a $2.1 billion operating budget and secures more than $1 billion annually in research funding together with the University of Maryland, Baltimore. For more information about the University of Maryland, College Park, visit

Virtual Conversation on UMD's Budget

September 14, 2020

All University of Maryland students, faculty and staff were invited to join President Darryll J. Pines and Vice President for Administration and Finance Carlo Colella to learn about and discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the university's budget on Thursday, September 10.

University of Maryland Launches New Social Data Science Center with Support from Facebook

September 9, 2020

Laura Ours 301-405-5722, Mia K. Hinckle  301-405-1260, Lee Tune 301-405-4679

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland’s College of Behavioral and Social Sciences (BSOS) and the College of Information Studies (iSchool) are launching a Social Data Science Center to help researchers better access, analyze and use powerful social science data. Such data is critical to understanding and addressing many of the pressing challenges facing the nation and world.

UMD’s new Social Data Science Center (SoDa) leverages the university’s strengths in survey methods, measurement, information management, data visualization, and analytics. Facebook is providing support for the center’s research and education programs over the next three years. SoDa already is collaborating with Facebook and with other universities to address the COVID-19 pandemic through a public survey tool.

The center’s co-directors are Frauke Kreuter, professor and chair of the Joint Program in Survey Methodology in BSOS, and Brian Butler, professor and senior associate dean of the iSchool. The executive director is Jody Williams.

SoDa Mission and Scope

“Effectively, ethically, and efficiently creating high-quality information products about human activity and behavior is critical for progress in many domains such as health, education, climate, policymaking, and government,” Kreuter said. “BSOS and iSchool colleagues are working with academicians and industry leaders across campus and around the world to address major societal challenges by first gathering and evaluating data.”

SoDa faculty and collaborators believe the unique challenges of working with social and behavioral data at ever-increasing scales, broader scope, and for novel purposes can be effectively done only by a multidisciplinary community of researchers who are able to draw on and contribute to basic research in a variety of domains.

“SoDa researchers solve data challenges with immediate, real-life implications. Whether improving measures of national economic activity or gathering COVID-19 symptom data, we transform the whole data life-cycle—how it is collected, analyzed, communicated, and visualized—enabling data-driven solutions to today’s critical problems,” Butler said.

SoDa currently is recruiting associate and affiliate members from across the university, and future plans include the introduction of a Social Data Science undergraduate major.

“There is a growing demand for social data scientists with the knowledge and skills to analyze large volumes of data and connect big data to human behavior. The value is in the treatment of that data. The mission of SoDa focuses on the mindful use of social scientific methodology and analytics in research, education, and application of complex digital data, key components to extracting valuable insights from modern everyday life,” said Williams. 

Multi-Institution/Facebook COVID-19 Public Survey Tool

Kreuter and SoDa colleagues are now working with researchers at other universities on a public survey tool to help to track the spread of COVID-19 worldwide. Facebook is assisting in gathering data about U.S. residents who are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19. The researchers hope to predict virus “hot spots,” both in the United States and around the world. The survey asks respondents about  coronavirus symptoms, testing availability and results, and whether respondents have had contact with anyone known to be infected. 

The project expands on an existing Carnegie Mellon University/Facebook collaboration to track early symptoms of infections. UMD researchers are collaborating with the Center for Health Policy and the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University and the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health on the survey. UMD also hosts the international data.

 “We are thrilled to work with Facebook and other partners to take the symptom survey global. The survey data have the potential to help researchers better monitor and forecast the spread of COVID-19, and possibly when, where, and how to reopen parts of society,” Kreuter said.  

Related projects are developing across SoDa as researchers are building COVID-19 dashboards and other data visualization products. Researchers in BSOS’s Center for Geospatial Information Science are interested in incorporating the Facebook survey findings with COVID-19 maps that are already being produced.

Faculty, students, and staff from across UMD are encouraged to join SoDa in future discussions and projects.

A virtual launch event will be held for SoDa September 28–30, 2020, featuring panel discussions with center researchers and affiliates, as well as industry leaders. Learn more at

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UMD's XFINITY Center Selected as Advanced Polling Location for 2020 Presidential Election

September 8, 2020

Sean Ellenby, Assistant Athletic Director,, 301-314-8093 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - University of Maryland’s Xfinity Center has been selected as an advanced polling center for the upcoming 2020 Presidential General Election. 

Xfinity Center will serve as one of 11 advanced polling locations in Prince George’s County from Oct. 26 to Nov. 2 from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. It will additionally serve as an Election Day voting center. 

“This may be the most significant competition ever to play out in our arena,” said University of Maryland President Darryll J. Pines. “Making it more convenient for voters and increasing turnout contributes to the cornerstone of our democracy. I’m extremely proud that our student-athletes took the lead in making this happen.”

The state-of-the-art Xfinity Center is currently home to the University of Maryland’s nationally renowned men’s and women’s basketball teams, in addition to its gymnastics, wrestling and volleyball programs. It also serves as the hub for the athletic department’s academic center and administrative offices.

“We are honored to open the doors of Xfinity Center to the general public as an advanced polling location for the upcoming presidential election,” said Director of Athletics Damon Evans. “This was one of the primary goals of our ‘VoTerp Initiative,’ and I am extremely proud of the committee members who brought this idea to life. Voting is fundamental to our human rights as American citizens and Maryland Athletics is humbled to play a role in the process.”

For further information on advanced polling locations in the state of Maryland, click here


January 27
Partnership to raise awareness of student-athlete health issues  Read
January 11
President Pines applauds Rankin for exemplary accomplishments as the university’s chief academic officer  Read
December 21
Part of its larger diversity and inclusion efforts, UMD marks first time in a century that residence halls will be... Read
December 21
UMD Center for Transition and Career Innovation (CTCI) gets $100,000 award from Maryland Developmental... Read